Thalassa is a Greek seafood restaurant. The Hellenic influence is on display everywhere, but with fish imported daily from all over the Mediterranean, you can think of Thalassa as simply a very fine seafood restaurant.
Thalassa means “the sea” in Greek. The letter theta is everywhere, from the china, to the banner outside, to even the doggie bags. The design radiates cool blues, making Thalassa a most soothing place. Billowing fabric covers the exposed brick walls. Perhaps it is meant to suggest sailing ships, but it also absorbs the sound, making Thalassa a place of calm, even when it is full.
Our party of 3 shared a starter of calamari. We’re all used to strings of calamari, breaded and immersed in the deep fryer. This dish was totally unexpected. The calamari was wrapped in the shape of a sausage around stuffing of feta cheese, parsley and pine nuts. We were simply amazed.
Thalassa’s menu offers a number of standard entrées, as well as a whole page of fish by the pound, which varies depending on what’s available. The restaurant recommends one pound of fish per person, but you have to order a whole fish, and not every selection is available at every weight. You’re dependent on your server to explain all this, and our server had a bit of trouble getting it across.
In the end, my friend and I settled for a two-pound sea bass, which we shared. A pound of fish sounds like a lot, but remember this is the uncooked weight. After the head is removed and the fish de-boned, this turns out to be just the right portion size. It was a nice flakey fish with a rich taste. The fish-by-the-pound selections don’t come with anything else, so we ordered a side of asparagus to go along with it.
My mother chose one of the standard entrées, Snapper Spetsiota, which is described as “oven-baked in a clay vessel with tomatoes, onions, fresh oregano and white wine.” This turned out to be a very large portion, which she enjoyed immensely, but she had half of it wrapped up to take home for tonight’s supper.
Thalassa boasts a long and varied wine list. We settled on a modestly-priced but obscure cabernet, which was such a hit that we asked the staff to give us the label, so that we can buy ourselves some more. (Yes, I know: red wine with fish … do forgive us!)
We passed on dessert, but at the end of the meal we were each presented with a silver box with the familiar letter theta printed on it. Inside was a sugary pastry puff to send us on our way. All evening long, service was superlative. It’s a big town, but at least from my own experience, Thalassa is the best restaurant in town that has never had a rated review from the New York Times. Two subsequent visits have confirmed my extremely favorable impression of this restaurant.
Appetizers at Thalassa are $8-18, mains are $24-36. The market fish selections available last night were at $26-45 per pound, with most in the $26-32 range.
Thalassa (179 Franklin Street between Greenwich & Hudson Streets, TriBeCa)